tv Charlie Rose WHUT January 28, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EST
from london a special edition of charlie rose. >> charlie: welcome to the broadcast. we're live tonight from london, new york and washington. earlier this evening, president obama delivered his first state of the union address before joint session of congress. the economy was the major focus of tonight's speech. the president outlined various proposals to create jobs and tackle the growing deficit. addressing the debate on healthcare, he reaffirmed his commitment to comprehensive reform. >> the longer it was debated more depull became skeptical. i know with all the lobbying and horse trading the process left most americans wondering what's in it for me. bui also know this problem is not going away. by the time i'm finished
speaking tonight, more americans will have lost their health insurance. millions will lose it this year. our deficit will grow. premiums will go up. patients will be denied the care they need. small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. i will not walk away from these americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. [cheers and applause] >> he asked the two parties to work through their differences. >> to democrats, i remind you we have the largest majority in decades and people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. [applause] >> and if the republican
leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a super majority, then the responsibility of the government is now yours as well. just saying no to everything may be good short term politics but it's not leadership. we are here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. >> charlie: the address comes at a critical juncture for president obama. he has seen his approval rating slip after his first year in office. his proposals to reform healthcare remain stalled in congress. democrats are reassessing their strategy at the deat the time of their party's candidate in the massachusetts senate race. joining me now from new york, james fallows of the atlantic magazine, chrystia freeland of the financial times. from washington, john podesta for american progress he
previously served as previous of staff to president clinton and handle the transmission for president obama and al hunt from bloomberg news, david brooks of "the new york times" will join us shortly from washington. i'm in europe this week on assignment. we're coming from london where it is 4:00 a.m., 11:00 in new york and washington. i began our conversation with james fallows in new york with this question. what did the president need to do and did he do it? >> my opinion is the president needed essential to have a reset as he has done several times before with major specials especially after the jeremiah wright controversy two years ago he was able to change his tone with the race in america speech. last september he gave a speech to the joint session of congress essentially trying to reexplain the case for his health insurance program. i think that given how bad the publicity has been for him in the last two or three weeks and the results of the massachusetts elections he needed to change
his presentation of misadministration. i think he was effective in doing that. >> i think, i agree with jim, charlie. i think that the president also needed to explain what he was planning to do. because he now is in a very different position from the one he was in prior to massachusetts. and i think he did a pretty good job of telling us that. i think he gave us two really important pieces of information. one is, he's not giving up on healthcare reform. and the second is something that we hadn't seen him really doing very aggressively prior to the massachusetts vote which is he is going to hold the republican feet to the fire. and if they try to be the party of no as he said tonight, he is really going to try to make them pay in the court of public opinion. so i think he gave us two important messages about what he actually intends to do. >> charlie: there was much talk about the presidency coming into this. the question was whether they had a problem with message or whether they had a problem with
content. what did tonight's speech indicate in terms of how the whitehouse looks at that? >> i'll let you go first. go ahead. >> i think it's difficult, it's difficult to separate them, as you well know charlie, the strength of the president is connected to the strength of this program and i think that if there were any fault i would find with the speech is that president obama made it somewhat more i-centric than he probably needed to. he already is vulnerable. the people who oppose him think it's too much about himself. and while he needed in fact to get across the idea that he was confident. his administration knew where it was going to go. they had plans and they were going to hold the republicans accountable for just having filibusters to everything. he made it seem somewhat more about the message than it needed to be by saying i so often but this is a representation of himself and his agenda. >> i was actually surprised, charlie, at how little changed, both in the tone and in the
content. i think he is the same obama who campaigned and he's the same obama who we've had for the past year. it was really interesting and i think significant that he didn't go after wall street as hard as he could have done. he actually said i do not want to punish bankers. i spoke to the republican former ceo of a big wall street bank this week who said to me the president shouldn't be punishing banker. my former colleagues deserve punishment. this was an absolute country club golfing republican. so i think that wall street tonight should be saying thank you very much to the president for not going after them in the way that he could have done. and the other thing is, you know, he's stuck with health care. i think a lot of people were predicting he would back down from that. i think that what we saw was the obama to spoke to diane.
>> as long as he's been in the public eye starting in the 2004 democratic speech it's the same guy and i think he sort of receded from view with a buffering of the last month. that's part of what he was trying to get across. >> charlie: go ahead chrystia. >> i was going to say, one thing i had expected which i think he tried to do but it just doesn't seem to be the obama style, is a little bit more of feeling the pain of the american people. if i were david axe el rod whih i am not he would be asking middle class america to feel their pain. in content he laid out a program that speaks to that but i don't think he came across as clintonesque in terms of his emoting. >> charlie: he was getting a lot of advice also as to whether he should go to the left and appeal to those men's of his own
party on the left or whether he should go to the center. when you look at the content of this, what did he do? >> to me on the content he was to the left in the sense of saying we're going to stake with healthcare, we're going to stick with the things which brought us here. we care about creating jobs, etcetera, etcetera. but the phone, again, was moderate in a way that he has always been. to the, tent he can pull off doing both of them that's what he was trying to dogain. >> i would actually not contradict him but adding to what he had -- complimenting him in this obama area. i think there was actually a move to the center aspect as well, a very important one which is what obama had to say about the deficit and about cutting government spending. that was very well flagged, and we already had a very strong counter reaction from the left of the democratic party. but he stuck to his guns. that's really significant at a time when unemployment is a huge
issue for the predent to be saying actually i am beginning this economic pivot and i'm getting ready to cut spending. i think that's a really big deal. >> charlie: i can now go to washington. we've got al hunt covering washington for a long time and john podesta as chief of staff for pride clinton. al i go first to you. tell me what you thought of this. was it the right tone, was it the right message and who will receive this in what way? >> charlie first picking up on what jim and chrystia said, i don't think politicians do very well when they reinvent themselves. so obama has stuck true to form and he had to tonight a he had to just reshape it a little. second point i make is that state of the union speeches rarely are memorable. that's not what they really are
for. it is a rallying pride to a large extent to his base, his party. he succeeded in doing that. i don't think he persuaded a swingal republican in the chamber but i don't think he had much of a chance to do it going in. >> was there anything that you thought he should have done that he didn't do? >> is there anything -- i am having trouble hearing you. if there was anything he should have done. i was a little surprised that he wasn't tougher on wall street. i'm surprised that he didn't invoke paul vocker who i think gives him a great deal of credibility around the globe on this issue. but that was the oy thing that really surprised me as far as omission. >> charlie: john, good to have you on this broadcast. what did the president
accomplish tonight? >> charlie, i'm really having trouble at the audio. can you do that one more time. >> charlie: what did the president accomplish tonight? >> well you know, i think that one of the things that's happened over the past few months is that he's lost the narrative about what he was trying to accomplish. he's got a lot of big things that he's trying to do and i think he lost the narrative of how those pieces fit together and i think tonight he tried to rebuild that, put that back gether. he had the opportunity to talk for more than an hour straight to the american people without the filter. and i think that he went back to a speech that i think that he gave in april that georgetown university when he described the new foundation that he wanted to build. and he built upon that and talked about his strategy for job growth, his commitment to the middle class. the reform of education and the
ability to do the things that are facing the american people in that i think he believes are necessary to move the country in order and create a sustainable economy for the future. >> charlie: if you can hear me john, i'll follow up that with you have watched president clinton, for example, in state of the unions give a laundry list of proposals to go to a midterm election. did you see that here or was this president left preoccupied with a laundry list and more pre occupied with gaining a gaining a different kind of traction, the traction that he had in 2008. >> you know, i thinkthe question was the laundry list, charlie. you know, i think that president clinton always relished the state of the union. he used to say running for president was the biggest job
interview that, probably in th world. but that what he really thought of the state of the union as is the chance to renew that contract with the american people, to lay out with specifics what he wanted to do, where he wanted to take the country. i think that's what president obama tried to do tonight. and i think it worked in the sense that he reconnected with the american people and i think he showed that he was determined to not give up, to not quit in his terms, but to move forward on the agenda that he ran on, that he talked about when he was inaugurated that he talked about last spring to move forward with that agenda. >> charlie: while i try to fix the audio in washington, i'm going to go back to new york. and then we'll come back to washington after they f the audio, hopefully. jim fallows, was this a rode map for the midterm elections. >> i think it was and i would like to answer that in continue
what john podesta was just saying i think the famous clinton state of the union address in the mid 90's which was so long, this address is 70 minute long. some of clinton's were 90 minutes long and the were strongly credit sized by the ess but got a lot of support from the public. they were laundry lists of proposals. i think obama is a very person from bill clinton and different kind of president, this was in a sense his laundry list of ideas, of getting out his sense of where the common ground could be found, why he was doing what he had to do on the bank bailout even though as i said we all hated the bank bailout and what he was doing in medicare and the grand scale of the talking points for his party and making a come back in the midterm election saying we know what we're doing we know there are obstacles, we know it wasn't all going to be easy based on hope so here is where we're trying to go. in that sense yes, i think it was very much a clintonesque laundry list of ideas for the
mid terms. >> charlie: any new ideas? >> no. i think really the only thing that was surprising to me in this speech was the occasional bark that obama was making saying there arepeople who disregard the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change or whatever. so i don't think there was much that was new in the content but it was we are establishing yes we are confident in what we are ing. we have a plan we're doing this step by step by step as oppose to this chaos you've been inferring in the last month in news coverage. >> i think charlie also if i may there was one new thing that wasn't there which you may, if you were on the left of the democratic party, have wanted to hear. which is obama isn't talking about a second big stimulus. that could have been a center piece for this year and a center piece of the campaign this year. he made very clear that jobs jobs, it's the economy, stupid year.
but he didn't make thatig fiscal concession that he could have. so i think that was really interesting. and the other point on tone that i thought was really interesting and very classic obama was the self criticism, the quite humorous self criticism on healthcare. i think he handled that really nicely. >> charlie: there was also this, chrystia, the notion that he should or should not or he needed to be bold and he needed to somehow explain his vision more to the country, to capture this sort of what we call the inspiration gap. did he do that? >> i think that depends on how wonky you are. there have been a lot of criticisms of the president that he is tackling too many things at once. that these different issues are not connected. he certainly didn't make any concessions to the too many things on my plate critique. and in fact, he, you know,
doubled up and he said i'm going to continue pushing all these issues. i think in the president's mind these issues have always been very closely connected and he made that very clear. he basically is a guy who thinks that the profound structure of the u.s. they in the past decade is flawed. he thinks that there is great income equality that america is not equipped for globalization and that the answers to this are health care, education and energy. and that is what obama has been saying since before he took office and he said it again tonight. >> charlie: where do you think he'll go on healthcare now? what's the possibility for healthcare. >> i would think he goes back into what is legislatively possible now because we don't want to get into the reconciliation process and what the senate and house have to do. clearly he says if you have a better idea come to me. he reestablished the case connected with what chrystia is
saying. he's trying to do lots of things but he said i don't have any choice. we just had this near great depression, they had the healthcare is getting sort of woe by the day. while i'm talking more people will lose their insurance and so think he presented for saying okay you don't like my ideas come up with something better was we have to do something here and all of us are going to be held responsible for it. >> one other issue that he did signal that he really is committed to pursuing, which is financial reform legislation. i think that prior to the recent months when we've seen that this is actually a vote winning issue, i think there was a of doubt as to whether we really would get something through because it's incredibly complicated. and as the president pointed out there are a lot of lob yes, -- lobbyists on the other side of the issue. he put down that financial reform is something he intends to do. and he also made clear to wall street not only something he believes in, it may be in contrast with healthcare is
something that's going to be pretty good for democrats when they're out there campaigning. >> charlie: we're now join by david brooks. david, thank you. >> good to be with you, charlie. >> charlie: i'm in london where it's now 4:15 i think, or about 4:20. but david, you have been writing about this president and where he is in one column. did this speech address the questions you've been raising about how america sees its president and what it wants from itsresident. >> i think so. there was the vicious attack on tv pun dits. it was in april and june when he
lost 15% of the support he had among independents. if you're an in the voter looking at this speech you hear a lot of stuff you're not normally hearing from democrats. you hear about nuclear power and offshore drilling you hear about zero capital gains rates on small business. in poly terms these are not necessarily the biggest things of the world but you appreciate them. you appreciate the budgeting and spending freeze. iteems that was kind of a mud rat speech. if you a sent the last year healthcare fighting and we started out with this, i think the political climate would be actually a little different. >> charlie: john podesta does this say that president obama at the core is a moderate centris.
>> he's been there in the course of the campaign and throughout the course of the year. i think what was central with the massachusetts race in particular was the broken nature of washington and that's something that independents began to associate particularly with the process of trying to produce health care legislation. and it began to stick to the president. i think he tried to disassociate himself from that, come up with some ideas about how to break through that and put himself on the side of the american people and pushing back the partisanship that exists in washington. >> charlie, i think one thing we have to keep in mind going to a point that jim made a moment ago. healthcare is a overhang right now. until that is resolved, he can't really move on forcefully to any of these other issues. that has to be resolve in the next three or four weeks if democrats really want to be able
to focus on jobs and other things. there's only one way to do it charlie. there's no magical formula, no new ideas, they're not going to start from scratch. they have to persuade the house to pass the senate pill and go to jim's moment about the arcane yeah fix the abuses like the arkansas give away and reconciliation process. you have to persuade some liberals to swallow hard. i spoke to nancy pelosi. the votes are not in the house. >> that's not what i heard -- >> if that's the case, if that happens david i guarantee the republicans will win the house of representatives. >> he didn't say we're close let's just jam it through. he said let's hear some ideas. >> the main thing he tried to accomplish tonight was the line whenner said let's lower the temperature. he wanted this dialogue to take place without the high intensity
that's gone on over the last couple weeks. so that we can try to pursue. i think that's their preferred option is to pursue the strategy output forward. if there are a way to pick up a republican vote or two, he has been open to all that all year. he wanted to lower the temperature right now so he can assess where the votes are to get this thing done and get it as he says across the finish line. >> if i can jump in with a dose of pessimism. one of the things the american peopleecided they didn't want was back room deals and legislative compilations and trying to jam this through on a two-step process attaching it to some other bill i think americans are going to look askew at that and lance lincoln understand that. the strategy may work for president obama in four years if
they get this thing enacted but there will be short term main and you will be asking a lot of people to lose their jobs over it. >> i don't think the american people will revolt because they've done away or they've rescinded the nebraska give away. i really don't think there's a huge clamor out there. >> so charlie, this is jim. >> charlie: go ahead. >> the pass of the speech he said as temperatures cool i want everyone to look at the plans we propose and he goes on with some of the details. and he says here's what i ask of congress though. do not walk away from reform. not now. not when we are so close. let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the american people. that sounds to me a he's very much saying we're going to do this i'll hold you responsible but we have to do this before anything else. >> charlie: the only route to do that is the route that pal is suggesting, is it not. >> i think that's probably so
but he didn't need that in the speech but i think he laid down the marker saying i'm committed to making this happen as opposed to saying let's move on or try this next year or four years from now or whatever. >> what he said tonight does make it harder for him to wesal out of that. a legitimate political saint at this point might have been to try to find a way around doing healthcare certainly this year. and he did quite the opposite. he has said identify am tying my fortunes and yes dear democratic legislators, yours too in getting this done. >> charlie: i want to go back to a question -- john. >> i think he's al used this again to come back to this new foundation that is very of the economy. he views this as necessary both from the federal budget perspective but more importantly to get the united states economy moving again to get jobs, to get wages growing again. you have to have substantial
healthcare reform to lower the rate of inflation and healthcare and individual families. the bills that are working that way through congress really accomplish much of that and there's been a real problem in just selling that. >> charlie: john podesta why do you think the president is in the place that he is and how much of the responsibility is his leadership. >> well you kno i think that from the other side, which is he's facing, we have right now i guess a parliamenty system with a super majority requirement to get anything done. and that's a very difficult circumstance just look at california which is sort of parallels that. but i think that one of the things i think that he tried to do was work the inside game. and he did that i think on healthcare on the theory that it was the most likely way to be
successful. i think he studied the failures of comprehensive healthcare reform and the clinton administration and he saw the ability to try to work on both sides of the aisle. he tried to work with republicans with olympia snowe and others but to try to work an inside game. but i think in doing that, i think he lost the narrative. he's got to get back to that. he began that process tonight but he's got to keep at it. >> charlie: david a point i raised with john earlier and your point about tone. at the end of this day the president a pragmatic sent contemporaneous -- centrist. >> he made a case quoting jefferson. we didn't hear prick make a central case for big government. he isn't an ideological sort of person. he has instincts that wants him
to centralize power. he has sell power that makes him want to control things himself. but i think he is as he sees himself sort of a pragmatic central left guy. i think the reason -- >> charlie: go ahead. >> well i think the reason healthcare's unpopular is because the country is just suspicious of washington, and for a whole series of reasons, he's concentrated power in washington, some due to the circumstances, some due to design, some due to faith in technocratic control and the country has reacted viscerally against that. i don't think he's motivated by liberal ideology so much as the believe that me and smart guys can solve these problems. he goes about it a pragmatic way but pragmatic washington can still be scary washington. and so i do think the problem is a little more fundamental. >> charlie: everybody agrees that the two things this president has to address that are a part of where the country is, is debt and the deficit and
jobs. did this speech really speak to those issues in a way that offers a roadmap to deal with the hurt as well as the discomfort that people feel. >> this is jim in new york. i think that to the extent he didn't, it's only because those issues are basically impossible and rest on hope. he laid out all the plans he's going to have for increasing jobs from innovation to business and tax breaks and all the rest. and the goals for deficit reduction except the partial freeze, i think the main way you could address those is laying out his case his vision, where this came from, what the solutions would be but he clearly couldn't make as much as a commitment on those two cases or many others because they're beyond anybody's direct control. >> i think one important thing
charlie that he did which is implicit in your putting those two goals together is there's a contradiction between them, right. on the one hand, unemployment is very high. there is a natural desire by certainly by unemployed people for the government to do something to increase employment. at the same time, the debt and deficit are also very high and at a certain point the rest of the world is going to stop wanting to lend money to a spend thrift united states. what i think the president did very elegantly tonight is explain both and explain why it was going to be necessary to perform this pivot. i thought he did a really good job of saying we have to start talking about reigning in the deficit now but we're not going to do it quite yet we're goinged of next year and i'm hoping -- he didn't say he's hoping but he is hoping by then the economy will be strong enough that it
can sustain that. >> charlie: al speak to the question of jobs. >> well on jobs, it's a hope. it's little bite size stuff and it will help the economy. in the deficit issue he's in a terrible quandary and i think others are even more to blame. the senate this week defeated a proposal that would have set up a base type commission that would have come up with deficit reductions and congress would have voted it up or down. it has to be bipartisan. i hate farming out these things as a matter of public policy to the commission. i don't think there's any other way to deal with this issue. the reason it was defeated was because a number of republicans petrified, intimidated by their base there is a back doorway to increase taxes. number of democrats petrified by their base say there will be a back doorway to cut entitlement. do you know something, if you want to cut the deficit, you got to do both. there is no other way and the fact they lost in that and the
senate i think it's bad news for barack obama and the country in the years ahead. >> there's a place where he did inherit a double whammy. he had a job losses were 700,000 a month whene took office and deficit was exploding when he took the oath of office. so it's very difficult i think to thread through the eye of this needle to try to provide enough support to the question now to get jobs going again. i disagree to some extent with al. he did put forth a serious program to try to do that. it builds on the recovery act and he took responsibility and credit for the recovery act for preserving jobs moving forward trying to invest in those priority areas like clean energy jobs that push forward through the course of the year. but he's got to show a credible path the next couple years getting the deficit under control.
he made a pledge which i think is important that any of the deficits he creates through the programs that he's going to put forward, he's going to work that, he's going to work that off the balance sheet. and i think that was a bold move that hasn't been discussed much and wasn't one of the few things that wasn't in -- >> that's a fair point but i agreeith al there's a mismatch between the size of the problem and size of the proposal. it's huge. 13 billion deficit and the freeze is a gesture. an important gesture but still a small gesture. >> but he went further than that. >> okay even so. and then secondly on the jobs, as john said, it's a bad decade, stagnation, 10% unemployment. i still didn't see anything in there that fundamentally addresses those issues. and i think to the core issue that he did address without a solution but he was right to address it which is institutionally the government is weak in addresngts fundamental problems and it has
been preceding this administration. last few years we tried social security reform, immigration reform, healthcare, cap and trade, cap and finance. it's been failure after failure after failure. i had a very moving e-mail after the senate staff or a democrat, a woman who said i've been working a year on healthcare. it's probably going to come to nothing why am i here for. a t of people up here feel that way and that goes to the institutional weakness of our government this time. i think he understands the problem but how you get out of it, that's a real quandary. >> charlie -- >> charlie: how do you explain it to the american public as well so they understand that you grasp the difficulty of the way that congress works and the way that the senate works. >> your you know, we have large medicare social security we have large entitlement programs. every single penny and revenue raised this year is already committed to entitlement programs. the first time in american history this has happened.
and these programs have their constituents. even from the back rooms in washington they have amassed constituent and general interest and they're just phenomenally hard to change as healthcare proves. >> charlie: do you think a deficit commission is the way to go? >> i'm completely with al. i hated it in principal but i think it was the right thing to do. in public. and now with its failure, i really do not see a way out of an exit strategy out of the fiscal disaster we're walking through. right now i just don't see a way out of it. >> whether the republicans will meet the president halfway, will they at least having not been able to vote for this bill, will they at least support a process that he intends to begin through an executive board which was indeed the way president reagan set up the bipartisan commission in social security in 1983 it was through an executive order
as president obama suggested tonight. >> charlie: i want to come back to it but chrystia go ahead. >> i was just going to say charlie, you are in london right now. you're i a country that has a parliamentary system. and i think the president while not going into comparative international study of governmental system, did flick at this absurdity of the american government system we have a big majority, we have bg legislative authority and still we can't get things through the government. he made quite explicit this is a huge problem in america, a problem that drives david brooks we've just heard to absolute budgetary despair. and i think that one of the interesting things to hear from the president as this year goes on and maybe once he get past the mid terms is he going to be prepared to be really bold about this precise issue. is he going to be prepared to say to the american people, i
have great ideas, you have voted for me, but our actual system of governing the country isn't working right now. >> sorry just for a second. i mean he raised by illusion the filibuster issue which is really an important one. it's very different from 20 years ago or 200 years ago and threatens our ability to address big issues. >> charlie: in fact it is argued that the best solutions do not make their way through the congress because of the filibuster. david? >> yes. i don't think that's it. i think it's public opinion is the problem and i may jump out the ledge after we're done here. i'm trying to figure out whether to take al with me. >> we're going to stay here charlie don't worry. >> you're in london and there the fiscal situation is actually even worse than it is here. the guy who is going to be chancellor when they win the next election gave a speamp at their party conference and they said to the country hey it's terrible here i'm going to raise
your retirement age. and his public opinion standing rose because the country there understands how bad it is. i'm not sure the country here understands how bad it is. >> charlie: okay. but that's a very good point in terms of where this president is and what he needs to do. does he need to talk to the american people about hard choices about sacrifice, about what the difficult road ahead is, whether it's deficits or jobs or filibusters in the senate. frank talk, harry truman. >> can i talk like i was with jimmy carter. there's a time with the ameran spirit which responds well to the jeremiah wright speeches saying things are really dark we have to respond but it can't be an unremitting down beat tone. i think the president did a good job as he has through his career saying we've got serious problem whether you talk about healthcare or international
situation but we can deal with them. so i think that that's the tone and the balance he struck. i think it's the only one he has and i think it's basically the one that can work for him. >> charlie: al, weigh in. >> picking up on what jim just said there was a carterresque line in there at least in one version of the speech we saw earlier is we grunt a government as good as the people. that was very good but i think what he had is exactly what jim just said he had the optimism in there and that's what jimmy carter lack. i don't think any person can govern without that optimism. the problem is when we go to the particulars as david just articulated a moment ago boy it's hard to be optimistic sometimes. >> charlie: h do you both -- go ahead. >> i think, i come back to the line at the beginning of the speech despite our hardships we do not give up, we do not quit, we do not allow fear or decision. it ends with we don't quit, i don't quit. i mean i think that, i agree i
think that was really quite in the spirit of actually understanding how tough things are right now about being optimistic about moving forward. and i was starting to say charlie the silver lining i guess was the massachusetts race is the republicans now have 41 votes in the senate. so if they continue to just block every piece of legislation from coming up, i think there's more ownership now and i think the president was trying to call that out tonight when he said that you know own responsibility for governing too. >> charlie: chrystia, do you think. yes go ahead do you think this will res not with the republicans? >> no. what i think might resonate with the erican people on this issue of who owns the problem which the president did which he hasn't been doing too much is he spent a little bit of time pointing out that it's not his fault. there was a little bit of sort of finger pointing and he did talk about the bush
administration and spent some time underscoring the fact that these deficits were not entirely at his creation. and explaining that the deficit creation that he had engaged in wasn't business as usual spending, it was preventing a second great depression spending. i thought he did that well and i think politically that is pretty astute. >> charlie: al hunt. you were covering it for the wall street journal. let me ask this question. much has been said about this president perhaps being much too much like a prime minister along with his chief oftaff. and too much giving legislative authority to the congress and not enough vision and direction and laying out his own proposals. does that ring true to you? >> certainly it did last year. i think john mentioned it
earlier they got so wrapped up with the inside game they forgot the outside game. you have to walk and chew gum at the same time and you have to play an inside game. there's no one ever governed effectively that hasn't cut deals and made arrangements and made an inside game. at the same time you have to be able to play outdoor politics. and that's what obama for a while lost sight of last year. we'll see how it continues in the month ahead and it's a challenge and he didn't do it well last year. >> charlie: how can he recapture the sort of magic of the campaign of 2008, you know, david luke is going to be back involved. they said they will not be surprised by massachusetts as they were in this senate race. they're putting together the early warning system for the congressional elections in 2010. >> i don't know, charlie. do we ever capture the great romance of our first love? i mean that's hard to do.
but we can have a longer steadier better relationship to keep on this charlie. well, all right, let me try to gracefully get out of this somehow. i hope my wife isn't watching right now. >> charlie: yes. she's probably on the air. david, i'm in london where i talked to david cameron today who pretty much supports he said all the things that he thinks president obama wants to do in terms over financial reform, in termof separating some of the roles of the deposit banks from roles that other financial institutions do. the so-called volker ideas. does that rest not out there. is that the thing the president will find a ready audience for. >> i think the general idea of policing the banks has some
residents, i don't know if everybody's up to speed with proprietary trading and that sort of stuff. i personally think it's a good idea the way he's doing it. when i was reporting this issue several months ago the sorts of approaches the administration has come up with were certainly enjoyed abroad with support among economists i was talking to with left and right. i think on substantive grounds, it's a sensible policy. i think what was notable today was that for all the talk of populous that's been in the air the past couple week, i don't think that was a particularly populous speech. i was afraid he would take a sensible policy and discredit it with an overthe top fighting tone. how many times would he mention the word fight in his speech and i was waiting for disembowel, dismember, decapitated and go after wall street like robert the bruce. but i don't think he did that. i thought it was a very even tempered speech and not particularly populous.
he says we want banks to succeed and i thought he was reassuring in that sense. >> charlie: you're the speech writer from our group. >> i was impressed by how many little digs of the knife he had on the populous type tone saying you hated the bailout bank bailout bill i hate it too. some people think bad behavior is being rewarded when good behavior isn't. in a cool call way he was making that point maybe his kind of populism. >> it's a mild populism. it could be for a different kind of democrat or a republican president. you cited david cameron who is a politician in britain and going after the city of london one of his signature pieces. really obama was incredibly mild on this issue and i think david as conservative is quite right to be relieved by that.
>> that's also who he is. it would be phony for him to take a different tone. he would come across strange. >> charlie: david brooks, david cameron said to me that you understood his philosophy. [laughter] >> i'm amazed. >> charlie: and i think -- ... [laughter] >> i need to find another conservative i agree with. listen david cameron is far ahead where i think the republican party needs to be. it took them a while to get under the shadow of margaret thatcher and they've done it and they found a way to describe the society but being against the state. and they found a way to talk about the bonds of social bonds and they've also found a way to talk about memorizing the market. and that's what you were talking
about with his views on finance. and they talk about things. conservatives aren't normally used t talking about love and things like that. you do that around here and they look at you like you're oprah. but he does it in a very gd and very substantive way. so i think that's where republicans need to go but i now think it's going to take ten or 15 years to get there because they're going to have a good november preach approaching the rry goldwater republicanism. barack obama will come back and win 2012. >> i awe fty -- agreed with dan that. i would buy republicans right now big time and i would sell accountant 20 -- october 20th. their base is far more injurious to them as the governing party than the democratic was 20 years ago and that was god awful as jim fallows knows. they're going to be a majority senate republicans are going to
vote ben bernanke. john mccain a normally sensible man is doing all sorts of things because of the fear of that base and that's a real long term problem. >> charlie: we're 50 minutes into this conversation, this global conversation and that's the first time anybody has either mentioned tea party or tea baggers. >> and it wasn't from new york, i'll say that on behalf of your city. let me mention a moment of incredible drama in this speech which was when virtually the entire chamber stood up applauding when the president pretty directly attacked the supreme court. the supreme court was right in front of him by a 5-4 majority today this ruling essentially opening up for campaign contributions from corporations. the president as clearly as in his nature addressed him down. i can't remember anything like that. the supreme court sitting there and everybody around them cheering to criticize them for better or worse. >> charlie: what does that say to you. >> it says to me that it was,
that we're talking earlier about sort of governing issues. it's 60 votes aren't enough to get things done in a senate but a one vote swing in a supreme court can overturn a century of established law. and i think there was some frustration coming out from the president and many of the democrats on that front. >> the other thing was to pick up on jim's point i do think that that was a really interesting moment in the speech and it was also a politically smart one for the president to pick up on cause that was one of his ways of talking about lobbying and about the co-roastive. that's something that resonat with voters. i think that maybe it's not something that american people want to talk about you know does the american political system work in the modern page, something jim has written about very eloquently. but if you say to them is it a
good idea for companies to be able to spend a lot of money to influence legislation, most people feel like that's maybe not such a great thing. >> charlie: before i leave you jim you spent some time in china. should this president be talking about foreign policy more or is the prooccupation leading to domestic issues. >> halfway through the state of the union address i say now turning now to the affairs of the wider world you get equal amounts. it made sense in the circumstances of his speech to be three quarter or 80% domestic. that's sort of the national agenda of the moment he touched the basis quickly interly and moved on. >> charlie: chris taught. >> i was going to say charlie it's remarkable though isn't it, america is at war and yet only a tiny tiny part of this speech was devoted to that. >> charlie: okay. so i ask each of you as we close
this evening so where is the debate today. after much talk about the president an what he would do in response to massachusetts and an election there, the election of scott brown, where is the national debate going to go and what did the president do to influence that debate tonight. david brooks. >> it's about size that was what the republican response. what the president did if he did anything position himself a little make him seem less like a big government liberal and orthodox democrat and a little more towards the center with smaller programs but programs that will seem reasonable i think to most people. >> charlie: al hunt? >> yeah, i agree. i think right now there's a slightly better chance than david believes in getting some kind of healthcare bill through. and then maybe financi
regulatory reform some kind of compromise. but other than that this is a year about posturing. i don't think much is going to get done. and i think the republicans will have big gains charlie so therefore i'm not sure a lot is going to get done next year either. >> charlie: john podesta. >> well i do think he came back and i think he reset the narrative and connected at that level. but i don't think he really changed the dynamic on the partisanship that exists in the congress. i think whatever he's going to get done he's still going to get done almost exclusively with democratic votes. he laid down the roadmap today for how that might happen and i think he'll get some his agenda done and some will get blocked by the republicans. >> charlie: chrystia less than a minute. >> the debate is going to be about the economy, the economy, the economy and he is going to be a little more willing to blame the republicans if they don't play ball.
>> charlie: jim. >> i'm still here. my spirit's not broken. we've still got these problems i'm determined to solve them you got something better fine but i'm going to stay here and fight. without that word fight. >> charlie: first of all i want to thank all of you for doing this. it is a global conversation and despite some problems with the audio, it's been remarkably easy to do. my thanks also to the bloomberg people here in london who at 4:00 a.m. have come together to put together a set and to make this an interesting way to do things. so i'm thankful to all of you. and to those in new york and in washington and certainly here in london. good night from london, even though it's in the morning. thank you for joining us. >> good morning. captioning sponsored by roseommunications